Carroll College Adds Mountain Bikes to Recreational Program with $25,000 BCBSMT Donation
An idea born on Helena's trail system and brought to life thanks to the synergy of four local businesses will help Carroll College students have some fun and stay healthy and active in one fell swoop.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana recently donated $25,000 to Carroll College to purchase 11 mountain bikes for the Carroll Adventure and Mountaineering Program (CAMP). Those bikes, purchased locally from Great Divide Cyclery and Big Sky Cycling and Fitness, are ready to hit the trails, complete with helmets and repair kits.
"We're always committed to investing in the communities we serve, and this is a unique way to do that, all while supporting Carroll College and the local economy," BCBSMT spokesperson Jesse Zentz said. "We hope this helps Carroll students take advantage of the amazing mountain biking opportunities Helena has to offer. It's a great way to have fun and shed some calories."
The idea developed during a chance meeting of CAMP director Bradley Maddock and BCBSMT public relations director John Doran, when the two were taking part in the filming of a promotional video touting the mountain biking scene in Helena. Doran liked the idea of how many larger cities offer free commuter bikes, but wanted to put a Montana touch on it. With Helena's prominence as a mountain bike destination, he leaned more toward knobby tires than commuter. Meanwhile, Maddock had a need at CAMP, as many Carroll students don’t own their own mountain bikes, and the program had none to offer.
"In the past, we've had a mountain bike program where we take students out mountain biking, but one of the biggest hurdles that we’ve had is that many students don't have mountain bikes," Maddock said. "So it's hard for us to take them out and introduce them to the sport. This is going to be huge for Carroll to get the students into it and give them the ability to come out and learn about mountain biking."
After working closely with Great Divide and Big Sky Cycling to maximize the number of bikes while maintaining quality, a wide range were purchased in August and delivered to Carroll College. The Specialized, Trek and Giant mountain bikes range in size, and all offer a great ride. Most are full suspension, but the selection does feature some hardtail options (front suspension only).
"I'm really excited to work with two main staples in the community, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana and Carroll College," Great Divide owner Dan Barry said. "Both have been wonderful to work with and I feel honored that they came to us. Our business is to get people on bikes, not only for entertainment, but for good health."
Big Sky Cycling owner Jim Barnes is looking forward to joining CAMP for some rides.
"I think it's a great opportunity for Carroll students, living in a community that's so close to the mountains with easy trail riding access," Barnes said. "There are a lot of kids who come to Montana, because they want to get outside and do some of this stuff, so this just makes it easier. That's what drew me to the state and I never left. And because these are performance bikes, it will make it fun."
The hope is to maintain a long-term relationship with Carroll while using the partnership as a pilot program for possible opportunities at other Montana colleges and universities.
"Helena is a great place to mountain bike, but it's not the only place to mountain bike," Zentz said. "This idea could work really well at other colleges around the state in the future."